Jamie Myrold on Diversity, Hierarchy, and Listening at a Local Level
Just ahead of Women’s History Month, four of our Adobe leaders served as delegates to The MAKERS Conference, joining in critical conversations about gender at work. This year’s conference theme was #RaiseYourVoice, and attendees spoke up about everything from equal pay to harassment and hiring practices.
We talked to Jamie Myrold, Adobe’s vice president of Design, about making sure everyone has a voice, recognizing diverse perspectives across cultures and regions, and her hopes for the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements.
Of the things you learned at The MAKERS Conference, what had the most impact on you?
The most impactful thing for me was the opportunity to see gender and diversity through so many different lenses. My view has been through Adobe and the creativity world, and The MAKERS Conference exploded my mind with the breadth of what’s happening with gender and diversity across industries. There was such a broad spectrum of voices. They’re coming from so many different perspectives, but they’re all going in the same direction.
Through your Adobe lens, why do you think diversity is so important to success?
I think diversity makes better technology because there are more voices in the room. At Adobe, held an annual Women’s Summit the past few years, and we have a strong leadership focus on diversity, which brings the issues into everybody’s collective consciousness. We believe that the status quo is not enough. This fits with one of our core values—we never sit on our laurels. We’re always pushing, reinventing, and challenging, and talking about diversity as an objective is helping us do even more.
How are you fostering diversity in your own organization?
I’m lucky because my organization is fairly diverse naturally. When we recruit, we’re conscious about the candidate pool, and also we’re conscious about the panel of people we put in front of the candidates.
We also work to make sure everyone has a voice. For example, on our design team we don’t approach the work we do from a hierarchical perspective. We make sure designers, no matter what their level, are the ones speaking to the work they’ve created. That’s not standard across the industry—the director or creative director is usually the one speaking to the work. But our approach helps amplify more thoughts and opinions.
What advice would you give to other business leaders who want to build a corporate culture that nurtures and thrives on diversity?
Don’t focus on hierarchy. Include all of the voices in the conversation, and be self-aware that, as leaders, we need to pay attention. Don’t be afraid to celebrate all different types of contributions.
I was recently on a panel in India for International Women’s Day, and I discovered that the conversation about gender at work in India is very different than the one we’re having here in the Bay Area. It was eye opening for me, because it hadn’t occurred to me that similar challenges would spur such different perspectives. So another piece of advice I’d give to leaders is to recognize that issues are perceived differently in different cultures and regions. We need to welcome this complexity, and understand that there’s no one-size-fits all when it comes to building an inclusive workplace. We have to listen at a very local level.
With the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, it feels like we’re on the verge of massive changes for gender equality in the workplace. What do you hope will come of so many women and men raising their voices?
I think that these two movements have brought a much more broad and collective awareness to the issues. My hope is that we don’t make men feel afraid of interacting with women — that was something that came up at the conference — there are some men who are pulling away, feeling like they have to avoid being too direct with their female employees and peers. It’s always a double-edged sword with these things. They bring the awareness and then what people do with that awareness is based on their values. I hope that, instead of dividing things further, we’ll create a more positive collective value system.